Panic attack, will it pass?

Panic attacks come on suddenly and involve intense and often overwhelming fear. The common emotional symptoms linked to a panic attack are generalised fear, fear of dying or losing control, sometimes accompanied by a sense of detachment from the world (derealisation) or oneself (depersonalisation).

The physical symptoms, such as rapid breathing, chest pains, and pins and needles are very similar to those of a heart attack. It can be very frightening and highly unpleasant. Panic attacks usually pass in several minutes, but they can sometimes linger on for hours. Afterward, you might feel totally drained and exhausted. It is very common for people experiencing such an attack to convince themselves that they are about to die.

This is not the case. Nobody has died of a panic attack. It is simply the body reacting to increased adrenaline caused by panic. Although sometimes it might feel like a very real threat, it is not life-threatening.

You don’t feel it coming and it’s a full mental panic storm going on. The main problem is that the immediate onset of the attacks causes your brain to frantically try to find an explanation as to where the danger is coming from and find the best way to fight or escape it.

Here are a few things to remember when the attack starts.

Recognise you’re just having a panic attack

As scary and unpleasant as it is, it is a false alarm. Just like other physical symptoms for other illnesses (fever, headaches, cough), this is just a part of the disorder you’re suffering from. There is no need to find any other reason why you’re feeling it. Imagine you woke up at 2am, heart-pounding and palm-sweating, the odds of being in actual danger are extremely low. Remember and repeat to yourself, “this will pass”.

Let it run its course

If you feel like crying, do! It is a type of release. You’re not going crazy, you’re not weak. Again, this is an overreaction of your body. Repressing it and trying to hold it in will only make it worse. Acknowledge it and ride it.

That said, if you can, use breathing or grounding techniques to help you engage your natural relaxing response, helping to make it go away faster. A few types of breathing exercises you can try are power breathing, 7/11 breathing, and grounding techniques, you can look up these techniques to find out more. They are simple to learn and use.

Get up and move

You will start using some of those hormones flooding your system. As you are stressed, stick to gentle exercise. Walking is perfect for that. You are also tricking your reptilian brain into thinking you are taking action over the imaginary threat by moving away or doing something.

After an attack, you will feel wiped out. Take your time, rest and rehydrate yourself. You wouldn’t expect people with a migraine or a fever to be 100% operational, it applies here too. You need to recover, so be kind to yourself.

If this happens regularly, or if you simply feel like you are struggling to cope with life in general, do not suffer in silence and seek help. Talk to your GP, and look for a therapist that is specialised in anxiety disorders. Hypnotherapy is ideally suited to help you regain control and learn to relax, so you can move forward free of those negative emotions.

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Christophe Courtin - Anxiety & Phobia specialist

I am a clinical hypnotherapist specialising in anxiety, stress and depression management, working in the Folkestone area. I offer a friendly, empathic and non-judgemental environment to help create positive change for all my clients. I can also help you in many other areas such as smoking cessation, phobias and chronic pain relief.… Read more

Written by Christophe Courtin - Anxiety & Phobia specialist

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